Jon Howell is CEO and founder of Aviadev, Africa’s premier forum dedicated to growing connectivity to, from and within the African continent. In his own words, he has dedicated the last 10 years of his life to the world of route development, supporting organizations around the globe to improve their air connectivity with a particular passion and focus on Africa.
He says that whilst much of the connectivity that has been built over the last 25 years has been eroded by the pandemic, it will return but work must start now! He shares his thoughts in a linkedin article on why Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) have a huge role to play in shaping a recovery of aviation and travel:
The challenge faced by the airports
Whilst airlines have received most of the press coverage about how difficult their situation is, and are also those who have received the most financial support, airports have also been hugely impacted.
In Africa, many airports do not have large enough operations to have diversified to create a decent revenue stream from non-passenger revenues. Therefore, they are dependent on revenues tied directly to aviation activities and passenger throughput. Understandably, across the continent, this revenue has declined massively since the onset of the pandemic, but airports remain vital pieces of a country’s infrastructure and still need to find the funds to ensure a safe operating environment.
To summarise, a huge amount of their operating expenses have remained whilst aeronautical revenues have dwindled.
Added to this, Many countries in Africa have not created a separate airport authority and operate with just a Civil Aviation Authority. This is an important point, as it is the airport authority that should have a commercial focus and look for opportunities to increase its revenue, not simply to work as regulator and issuer of invoices.
Top of that list of activities should be to attract an airport’s biggest customer, namely airlines as they not only deliver revenue for the airport but a much bigger impact on the destination they serve.